Forum Archive : Tournaments

Clock rules--End of turn

From:   Carlo Melzi
Date:   24 July 2001
Subject:   Using clock: what would you do ?

While playing a rather important tournament semifinal, using the
clocks, the following happened to me.  Both of us players weren't
very confident with the clocks.  However, my opponent was less
confident than me.

It happened that my opponent finished his move and left the dice. I
told him that I needed the dice (with clocks only one pair of dice
is used) and he gave me forgetting to push the clock.

I rolled, and started thinking. It was a rather easy move, but I
started to take a look at several moves just because his time was
running.  I was having fun as he didn't realize what was happening.
After about 1 minute I started to feel stupid so I just made my move.

Do you consider me:

1) A good boy. Once your opponent makes an error, kill kill kill. I
should have been thinking as long as he didn't realize his time was
running (or lose the match)

2) A bastard. He was less experienced, I should have told him to push
the clock.

3) A incoherent. The first or the second, but not this stupid ibryd

:-) Looking forward to hearing your opinion.

Carlo Melzi

Daniel Murphy  writes:

At another big tournament this year when an opponent forgot to hit the
clock, but properly left the dice on the table, a player let the clock
run for about a minute before his opponent realized his error and hit
the clock. And then the player picked up the dice from the table and

However, in your case your opponent made two mistakes, and you also
made one.

Your opponent's first mistake was picking up the dice instead of
leaving them on the table (you say he "left the dice" but from you
description it sounds like he picked them up and put them in his cup;
otherwise you would not have had to ask for them). His second mistake
was forgetting to push the clock. Your mistake was rolling before your
opponent had ended his turn by pushing the clock.

Since you had to remind your opponent to return the dice to you (or to
the table), you might as well have also reminded him that he must
leave the dice on the table and push the clock to end his turn. If he
had left the dice on the table in the first place and you had sat
there without touching them, your opponent might have realized sooner
what the problem was.

Gregg Cattanach  writes:

The player #2 erred by 'handing' the dice over to player number two, and
when he did, player #1 should have told him to hit his clock.  The dice
shouldn't be handled by player #1 at all until #2 has hit his clock.
When player #2 doesn't pick up the dice and go on with his turn, it should
become obvious (eventually) to player #1 that he hasn't hit his clock.

With the 2 main clock rule changes just instituted (6 minutes per match
point instead of 5, and no time penalties in the DMP game), the clocks
serve their purpose admirably well, (getting matches completed in a timely
basis), with an extremely tiny risk of any time penalties at all.  The
other big advantage of clocks is that a person ends his turn with the dice
still on the table, which effectively ends disputes about what the roll
'was', (as happens when a player rolls, moves quickly then picks up the
dice, and player #2 disagrees about the roll that he saw).

All of our weekly club matches are clocked, and since the new rules in
February, no time penalties have happened in any match.

Jive Dadson  writes:

Why don't you use the clock on the DMP game?  Turning off the clocks at
that score makes no sense to me.  I think you will start doing it the
first time some bad sport does a sitspiel ("zit shpeel").  That used to
happen in chess games, and it was the reason the clocks were invented:
Some guy would simply sit, sit, and sit, and not play.

As you may know, the clock is an now an intergal part of the game of
chess, and being in time-trouble is something the player is responsible
for avoiding -- just as it is his responsibility to avoid blunders
moving his pieces.  It's not considered a fault of the system or a Bad
Thing when someone loses on time.  It's just part of the game.  Using
too much time is just like leaving a piece in take.  Don't do it!

I do think it would be good if there were some provision that tied the
amount of time budgeted to each player to the actual number of moves
played.  In chess, you usually get so many minutes for the first 40
moves, then so many more minutes for the next 20, and so forth.
Backgammon players (a lazy lot) probably would not want to be burdened
with counting the moves.  I've even heard of players objecting to the
opponent writing down a record of the game (!) -- something that's
mandatory in chess.  However, you can get clocks with a move register on
them.  Or you could do this:  Start each player with, say, 20 minutes.
Then after each game, add another 5 or 8 minutes or whatever to each

I've played some informal matches with a clock, and I like it.  It cuts
waaaaay down on the number of disagreements over what was rolled on the
dice.  I have a friend who has the habit of playing his checkers and
then snapping the dice up real quick, before you can say, HEY WAIT A
SECOND!  Of course, when I say he mis-read the dice and played a better
number than he actually rolled, you know who he is dead sure didn't see
the dice right. :-)

Just had an idea.  Back to the DMP thing -- How about simply adding some
pre-arranged number of minutes, perhaps 15, to both clocks if you reach
DMP.  That would make a lot more sense.  If player A had 25 minutes
remaining, and player B had squandered all but one minute, then player A
would have 40 minutes for the last game, and player B would have 16.
Most importantly, the last game would not be totally without a time
control.  I like that idea.


Gregg Cattanach  writes:

In the DMP game, you still use the clock to signify the end of your turn,
but no time penalties happen.  Again, the point of the clock in backgammon
is NOT to force people into time pressure and have them play
speed-backgammon at the end of a match, but to merely make sure each
tournament match completes in a timely manner.  If a match gets to DMP, and
one of the players starts taking 10 minutes per move, I'm sure the
tournament director would have some words with him.  This likelihood of
this kind of misbehavior is nearly nil.  (If you here about it, let me

Two other features of backgammon vs. chess is that in chess, you can plan
many moves ahead, but in backgammon this isn't possible.  Also, there is a
built in delay every move in backgammon to shake, roll, let the dice stop
rolling & move the checkers.  Fischer clocks could solve this, but few
tournament directors or players are keen to purchase these more expensive

The no penalty DMP rule is the rule currently in place, and seems to be
working well.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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